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How Blight: Survival added hundreds of thousands of Steam wishlists!
Also: Nintendo's results, and a whole bunch of other neat news.
[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & company founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
Welcome to a mid-week madness newsletter, as we have half an eye on weird macroeconomics, half an eye on U.S. elections, half an eye on Sonic Frontiers doing WAY better than we guessed, and half an eye on an upcoming Hbomberguy video.
That’s two eyes, right? Great, we need those ocular orbs to type the rest of today’s best* thrice-weekly** PC and console video game discovery newsletter in the Western hemisphere. (*Also the only.) (**For Plus subs, and we love ya for it.)
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How did Blight: Survival’s gameplay reveal go big?
GameDiscoverCo newsletter subscriber Matt Brown of Vicarious PR reached out to us because of the palpable success story (woo!) behind the new gameplay trailer for Haenir Studio’s Blight: Survival, which they helped to wrangle.
Sure, the game wasn’t doing too badly before this new announce. Before the reveal, Blight: Survival sat at #166 on the Top Wishlisted chart for unreleased games on Steam. But its raw Steam wishlist numbers, a week after this reveal, saw a 190% increase - and the game now sits at #48 (!) in wishlists on Steam. (It has over 33,000 followers!)
So Matt shared with us some of the history of the game and how it broke out, as follows - take it away, Matt:
“Haenir Studio’s co-founders, Mads and Ulrik, intentionally set out to make a horror medieval co-op game with a gritty, ‘low fantasy’ setting in Blight: Survival. They have been showcasing their work in progress from the early days of development with encouraging early signs:
Their first TikTok on 16th April 2022 - about breaking through/going around in-game obstacles - got >1.3 million views after 1 week, and helped add over 10k wishlists on Steam.
This early rise in interest allowed the game to get showcased in the Going Rogue Steam event in early May - where it was prominently featured in the ‘Coming Soon’ area, and spawned tens of thousands more wishlists.
Since their early visibility, Mads and Ulrik have focused on the next stage of their internal development roadmap: the gameplay reveal. This is where Vicarious PR came in. Captivated by the game (a medieval The Last of Us? yes, please!) we talked with Mads, and agreed to work together on the gameplay reveal.
We needed somewhere big to put this game reveal. IGN has the perfect audience for this kind of third-person cinematic survival game with AA/AAA visual quality. So Vicarious managed to set up an exclusive reveal with IGN, followed by other media outlets and influencers picking up the news.
We planned the reveal for 2nd November 2022, and:
The IGN YouTube trailer has hit over 2.5 million views after just 1 week (500k+ views after 24 hours, 1m+ views after 48 hours), and has spent a few days on YouTube Trending in the Gaming category.
Beyond IGN’s channel, YouTube was another huge driver of traffic through reposts of the trailer and ‘reaction videos’ from prominent channels such as Gameranx, Asmongold, MathChief, Resonant, Arekkz and more.
IGN’s initial Tweet was one of their best in recent months, hitting over 6,000 likes and 500 retweets. A follow-up Tweet has done better. Another IGN Tweet did even better. Several other industry names and outlets cross-tweeted the content to huge positive reception.
The widespread press pickup snowballed & went international from the day of the reveal throughout the first weekend (e.g. GameSpot, PC Gamer, GamesRadar, GAMINGbible, Kotaku, PCGamesN, GameStar, JeuxVideo, Automaton, Vandal, Gram.pl, 3DJuegos, etc.)
Haenir posted a short clip on their TikTok to coincide with the reveal which has itself gained over 1.9 million views in a week. The success of the IGN trailer prompted other TikTok-ers to post about the game - resulting in over 10 million views on #blightsurvival in the same time frame.
So overall, the reception was huge. But why?
Genre choice: Mads and Ulrik realized there weren't any gritty, ‘grounded’ PvE medieval co-op games out there - the exact game they wanted to make themselves. Turns out this is a highly desired crossover of theme and genre!
Game hook: beyond even that, the concept that the zombie apocalypse might be something for medieval knights to battle is a super-catchy ‘hook’. YouTube comments on the announce include: “Was honestly getting tired of the zombie genre… but this looks like a fresh take.”
Art direction: With the game taking inspiration from Hunt: Showdown and The Last of Us, writers and players alike really dug the style, setting, and animation on show in the trailer. For example, from PC Gamer: “Blight: Survival looks delightful if you like zombies, knights, and historically-inspired slash accurate armor and weapons.”
The trailer itself: The discovery landscape for games nowadays is getting ever more crowded. The pitch from Vicarious and the trailer footage from Haenir was key to getting buy-in to feature on IGN. And making it a longer-form gameplay trailer, with zombies getting ‘dealt with’ brutally early on, really made a forceful first impression on everyone.
The game’s Steam page got 1.25 million page visits in the first three days after the trailer hit, and the studio’s owned media channels saw massive growth as well. These now total 12k Twitter followers, 1.5k Discord members, 8k newsletter sign ups, and 70k TikTok followers. They are well-positioned to make use of a much larger pre-launch audience for future updates and news.”
Thanks for the data & insight, Matt! The hooks and high-quality implentation of the game so far meant that Blight: Survival was doing great on Steam, even when it only had a teaser video and a few TikToks behind it.
But the gameplay reveal really put it over the top. And showing ‘real footage’ in an extended video is such a smart way to showcase titles nowadays. (Especially when Blight: Survival looks so good!) It brings perceived legitimacy and authenticity to an environment where CG-only trailers are sometimes still a thing. Nice work.
Nintendo results? Hardware down, Splatoon 3 not!
So, our friends at Nintendo released their latest financials yesterday. And I actually recommend browsing their earnings report & CEO comments .PDF - it’s surprisingly pleasant and readable, compared to many. Here’s the highlights we spotted:
Nintendo Switch Online “has exceeded 36 million paid memberships as of September 30, 2022”, including both ‘vanilla’ subs & Switch Online + Expansion Pack subs. Looks like 32 million was the milestone as of November 2021, so that’s 11% increase in the last year. Which is… OK?
The Nintendo Switch’s LTD hardware sales hit 144 million, with 6.7 million units sold in the last 6 months, down 18% year on year. But sell-through percentage was flat. (It was 2.23 million ‘normal’ Switch, 3.53 million OLED Switch, 0.92 million Switch Lite.) And 106 million Nintendo accounts* were played from in the last 12 months. (*See above - not necessarily on 106 million Switches, though.)
For the year ending March 2023, Nintendo “reduced our [Switch hardware] forecast by 2 million units to 19 million units.” although “hardware production is on a recovery trend due to gradual improvement in procurement of semiconductors and other components.” But they won’t be able to catch up quickly enough.
We still think that Nintendo hardware is geared - intentionally or not - around selling Nintendo first-party games. Around 74% of Switch software revenue during this quarter still comes from first-party, and Splatoon 3 sold 6.7 million units (at $60!) in the four weeks since its release - very impressive.
There’s a more complete results document here [.PDF] which includes a host of other data, including stats on games like Mario Kart 8, which sold-in another 3 million units during the last 6 months (!), for a total of over 48 million units. Just… wow.
Aa lot of Nintendo’s presentation was really about expanding their digital/IP footprint beyond Switch, which is in a more mature spot now as a platform. That doesn’t mean that games aren’t a focus for Nintendo.
But from a public-facing viewpoint, it’s IP extension (with the Mario movie & more!) and ‘digital expansion’ in general - via a new JV with DeNA around the Nintendo Account and ‘value-added services’ - that seem to be consuming Nintendo. We’ll see exactly what they have up their sleeve here in due course.
The game discovery news round-up..
And we’re finishing off today’s newsletter with what can only be described as a clown car’s worth of new data and info on game platforms & discovery. Let’s honk its red shiny nose, and see what comes out:
Epic has updated its requirements to say that PC games must implement Epic Games Store achievements to be listed on EGS going forward. CEO Tim Sweeney clarified on Twitter: “If the game supports achievements through other PC stores, it must support achievements through EGS. Won’t retroactively apply to released titles.”
Veteran advocate and dev Rami Ismail has made an excellent blog post on indie publisher/developer funding: “What is a good [developer] revenue share? How do you navigate who gets what? And how much can & should you negotiate your revenue share?” Lotta good stuff in here.
The European Union is the latest to wade into the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard, saying: “The Commission's preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems.” They have 90 days to make a decision.
Have you spotted that Humble is starting to include DRM-free (non-Steam) PC versions of its latest published titles in its Humble Choice bundles? For example, Ghost Song is available Day 1 in the Humble Games Collection “in the Humble app for Windows PC.” (And recently, Signalis did the same - see above pic.)
Is the ‘collector-led physical game distribution’ market slowing down a bit under weight of titles? Unclear, but Premium Edition Games - one of the smaller players - says that “the quantities we will be producing going forward will be much smaller”, limiting total runs to <2,000 physical units, and deluxe editions to <500.
Microlinks: PS4 → PS5 game update paths are so hidden in the OS that Bungie says many Destiny 2 PS5 players haven’t upgraded; the next PC Gaming Show streaming extravaganza is on November 17th; a good ‘explainer’ on why PSVR2 is ‘a test for the VR market’.
Long-time Japan game biz observer Serkan Toto did an excellent write-up on the rise of the Japanese PC game market: “What’s interesting is that the size of the PC gaming market in 2021 roughly doubled versus 2018… there were 16 million PC game users in Japan in 2021 – among a total gamer base of 55.4 million people (Japan’s population was around 126 million last year).”
Take Two’s Strauss Zelnick had more detailed comments about launching new games into a subscription service, saying: “I don't think that ever made sense. I still don't think it makes sense. And I believe that it's now becoming obvious that it doesn't make sense. It's just a lost opportunity for the publisher.” Though he concedes that “catalog [games] can make sense.”
What’s the weirdest new game platform of the week? Definitely Google Meet, which now lets you play Uno via the ‘Activities’ tab while hanging out together. Given that Discord also has an ‘activities’ area, seems like adding games to multiplayer social experiences is getting more and more common.
Microlinks, Pt.2: PlayStation Plus’ Game Catalog additions for November are, uh, pretty good actually - Skyrim, Kingdom Hearts games, etc.; tech trends egghead Ben Evans on ‘ways to think about a metaverse’; the latest Switch Indie World showcase had some decent reveals, including Sports Story debuting in December.
Finally, I know we’re all on the look-out for unique methods of post-launch game monetization. And folks - in 2022, even (physical) pinball machines have them:
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, an agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We run the newsletter you’re reading, and provide consulting services for publishers, funds, and other smart game industry folks.]